Malström Graintable Synthesizer

Well here we are again,before I start I would like to say starting next month I will be posting email questions and an answer. If I dont know the answer I will do my best to try and find it for you. This month Reason 2.0.
Reason is a successful software program for both Windows and Mac platforms that emulates a rack of electronic synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, FX’s and sequencers. Though only released in December 2000, Reason has already received many prestigious industry awards.
New Features in Reason 2.0 include:

Malström Graintable Synthesizer

A new invention from Propellerheads that combines granular synthesis with wavetable synthesis. Graintables are extremely flexible and expressive sound sources, which allow for comprehensive manipulation. This includes being able to move through a sound by controlling the movement with real-time controllers, velocity, modulators and finding exciting new possibilities by controlling the spectral harmonics of the Graintable.
To that comes the filter and crunch sections. Malström’s two filters both have 5 different modes including 12dB/oct low pass, band-pass, subtractive and additive comb-filters and an AM mode. A shared filter envelope is also included which can control either or both of the filter sections at the same time.
As an integrate part of the second filter, the Shaper adds another dimension to Malström. It basically shapes the input signal with either a sine wave, noise or can transform the sound using saturation, digital distortion or bit-reduction. Furthermore the oscillators can be routed in many different ways to the two filter sections providing a vast amount of sound manipulation options.
Malström also feature 2 modulators/LFO’s with a wide variety of curves available. Used in One-shot mode these can be used to generate interesting attacks or envelopes and can also be used as tempo sync’ed LFO’s.
As you would expect from a Reason device, the most dynamic sound generating parameters can be controlled using CV and Gate controls from the Matrix sequencer or other Reason devices. Malström even provides audio inserts between oscillators and filters with the added benefit of being able to use both filters as standalone devices. Malström’s truly unique and interesting sound is destined to make it a favorite among Reason users.
What’s Graintable Synthesis?
Sure you want to know how Graintable synthesis works? Ok, here’s the academic explanation.

Graintable synthesis is neither granular nor wavetable synthesis but a combination of the best of both methods. The results are exciting, controllable, and texturally extremely varied.

The basis of a Graintable is a sampled sound, which has been pre-processed using an extremely academic and complex method. A whole leaflet would be needed just to describe this. Suffice to say, the result is a perfect set of periodic waveforms that, due to the pre-processing, can be manipulated in a variety of ways. The Graintable can be treated as a wavetable: sweep through it, move through it at any speed without affecting pitch, play any little section repeatedly, use it to pick static waveforms, jump between positions, etc.

Granular tricks can also be performed on the Graintable. One of those tricks is the Shift function, which uses resampling to manipulate each grain in order to shift the formant of the Graintable through the harmonic spectra without altering the pitch.

The Index parameter controls the position in the Graintable currently played. Sweeping the Index is being done by using real-time controllers or modulation and can be a powerful way of adding life to a sound. Furthermore, each Graintable has a built-in motion that sweeps the table according to pre-specified criteria depending on the Graintable used. In its most basic form, Motion simply controls the speed of the Graintable playback but also controls how a waveform is looped etc.

What does this mean musically? Well, imagine a sampled stack of detuned sawtooths, really thick, with chorus. By controlling sweep speed you control the fatness (down to the sound of one sawtooth). Or imagine a voice Graintable where you can extract any vowel, sweep back and forth, and modulate the harmonic content. Cool, isn’t it?
Yes its cool, but first and foremost musical. Graintable synthesis makes Malstrûm a truly uniquely sounding synthesizer, ready to add a little uniqueness to your music.

The Orkester Sound Library
Massive orchestral ReFill for the new NN-XT. Pristinely recorded and dying to be played.

Recorded in prestigious Atlantic Studios in Stockholm, these sample patches feature live, classically trained musicians who have been told to get into the groove. Because more than anything else, this is a sample library for you Reason users, and designed to blend in with the sounds from Reason’s other devices.

These slick samples will sound magical on everything from your Drum ‘n’ Bass to your next film score, and fit like a glove on your Hip Hop and R ‘n’ B. The Orkester NN-XT Sound Library spans from single woodwinds to complete string sections, and covers all essential playing styles. Add some percussion and tremolo strings to that and you have a library that will last you a lifetime.
NN-XT Advanced Sampler
A new powerhouse sampler, the NN-XT is packed with useful features to build realistic instrument patches. Where the existing NN-19 is a “fast-track” sampler, the new NN-XT is for more demanding sampling tasks. Powerful features include automatic pitch detection and mapping of samples, graphical zone editing, loop editing, layering plus zone velocity switching, and crossfading.
Each selected zone (or zones, if multiple are selected) can furthermore be programmed individually using the extensive synthesis facilities. These include filter with 6 different modes, 2 LFO’s, 2 envelopes, micro tuning capabilities and routing to any of the 16 audio outputs.
The alternate function is another unique NN-XT feature. By randomly alternating between zones whenever the same key is played repeatedly, the NN-XT makes sure the same sample is never triggered twice in a row. The result is added realism.
For all its power, the NN-XT is as intuitive and easy to use as any of the other Reason devices. The graphical editing display can even be folded in or out depending on whether advanced editing is required. Macro controls located on the front panel make editing of the most commonly used parameters a breeze and keeps patch adjustment simple. The NN-XT also loads SoundFont 2 patches and samples providing access to a huge existing library.

Detachable Sequencer
Reason’s main sequencer can now be pulled out of the rack and placed anywhere on the screen.

Great things come to those who wait; In Reason 2.0, the main sequencer breaks free from the rack and starts a life of its own, in a separate, detachable sequencer window. All you need to do is pull it out of the rack and it will expand across your computer screen. Now you’re free to move it around and customize it or resize it as you desire. If you’re blessed with two monitors, just drag the sequencer to your extra monitor, and enjoy the benefits of having a virtual studio on one screen, and a lightning fast sequencer on the other.

For your convenience, they have expanded the sequencer toolbar and added some new tools. This is to make your work with this already super-fast sequencer even faster: The Zoom tool takes care of your in and out zooming, the Line tool is for fast, accurate linear editing of automation and velocity, and the Eraser is for quick deletion of unwanted objects.
Graphical Zone Display
Each sample is loaded into a zone and made visible in the zone-editing display. Zones can be shortened, lengthened, copied, moved, or grouped with a minimum of mouse clicks. The graphical display provides information about velocity range for each zone and whether it’s selected for editing or not. As easy as it gets.

Editing a Zone
To select one or more zones for editing, simply click on them. All the parameters in the edit module are now affecting the selected zone, providing full control over everything from key range and loop points to modulation wheel behavior and filtering. Too easy.

Layers and Velocity Crossfades
This is where it gets good. Zones with overlapping keyranges are automatically layered onto each other, and there’s no limit to how complex a layered sound can be. For velocity switching, simply change the velocity range for the overlapping zones, and for some velocity crossfading, just adjust the fade in and out parameters or let the NN-XT do it for you. Easy does it.

Automatic Pitch Detection
Apart from Loading and automatically mapping your Aiff and Wav files, the NN-XT can offer another helping hand: Automatic pitch detection. The NN-XT simply identifies the root note of each of the samples in a collection and automatically maps it in the most intelligent way. Who said sampling had to be difficult?

Alternating Zones
Programming a realistic emulation of an instrument is no picnic. Many acoustic instruments sound distinctly different for every note played, and sometimes you need to be able to alternate between two playing styles. Enter the NN-XT. The sophisticated sampler’s “Alternate” function solves the problem automatically. By randomly alternating between samples whenever the same key is played repeatedly, the NN-XT makes sure the same sample is never triggered twice in a row. The result is added realism. And the process is as easy as it is automatic.

Loading Third-party Sampler Patches
The NN-XT happily loads sampler patches from the biggest library around: SoundFont 2 patches are not only loaded and mapped, but also retain their programmed patch characteristics. A utility for converting third-party sample and patch data is also on its way, providing the missing link between NN-XT and the Akai library.

The Back
No Reason device is complete without CV and Gate inputs and outputs on the back. And the NN-XT is no exception. This makes Reason’s samplers the only sampling instruments around that can be controlled in the same way as analogue synths. And with a total of 16 audio output channels, there should be plenty of scope for further external processing.

Analog synth, sampler, drum machine, ReCycle!-based loop player, mixer, effects, pattern sequencer, and more. As many of each as your computer can handle. Reason is an infinitely expandable MIDI studio on a CD-ROM, complete with its own real-time sequencer.

All the power of hardware, but without the hassle. Forget tripping on cables. Reason doesn’t need dusting. Picking up where you left off is as simple as turning the power on. When you save your work, your whole studio setup is stored along with your music. You can even include actual samples, loops, and drum kits in the file, for easy web publishing or email distribution to other Reason users. For once, total recall is truly total.
And so is the sound. The audio quality is everything you would expect from the people behind ReCycle! and ReBirth. But more importantly, the instruments and effects are loaded with character and attitude. Reason will not just impress, but inspire you.

More reasons.

There is more, of course. A lot more, Like a database for effortless file handling. AIFF and Wave export. A ReBirth Input machine for integration between Reason and ReBirth, Comprehensive MIDI remote control, And so on.

The graphic event editors in Reason’s sequencer are specific to the type of device the track controls. For example, the drum machine editor has a separate lane for pattern changes, and when editing a REX files player track (above), the sample slices are displayed to the left, etc. And if you don’t like the default setup, you can customize the editors

Reason’s devices not only perform like hardware, they look and feel like it too. All front panel controls are live, move them while the sequencer is running, and the movement will be recorded.
New OS support
Reason 2.0 fully supports both Windows XP and Mac OS X. Mac OS X support include Core Audio, Aqua GUI and any MIDI interfaces recognized by Mac OS X.
System Requirements

Intel Pentium II/233 MHz or better
64 mb RAM
CD-rom drive
Windows 98/ME/XP/2000 or later.
256 color monitor/800x600 pixels resolution or better
16-bit windows compatible audio card, preferably with DirectX or ASIO drivers
MIDI Interface and MIDI keyboard

For Mac OS X: Any computer that runs Mac OS X 10.1 or later.
For Mac OS 9: 604, 604e, G3 or G4 processor. 166 Mhz or faster.
128 mb RAM
Mac OS 9.0 or later
CD-rom drive
256 color monitor/800x600 resolution or better
MIDI Interface and MIDI keyboard
Yes there is a demo version you can try out, just check out their site for all the information about Propellerheads Reason and look at some of the other software. Until next month enjoy and send those questions in I will do my best to answer them or get an answer for you.


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